FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
If This Lunch Isn’t Free, I’m Writing My Congressman
Meet Margaret Davis, who is the reason we can’t have nice things in this country:
Margaret Davis of West L.A. voted for President Obama and appreciates the ideas behind theAffordable Care Act. She agrees that everyone should have access to healthcare and no one should be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
But here’s the problem:
She knows firsthand, as the new law of the land rolls clumsily into being, that it’s not working out to everyone’s advantage.
“I’m a 55-year-old woman in excellent health and have a catastrophic health plan,” she wrote recently to Obama and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. “I am completely happy with my plan. I received notice that the plan is being canceled and that to stay with a “comparable” plan my premiums would increase 88%, or $200 extra per month. To add insult to injury, the plan is INFERIOR to my existing plan.”
If you guessed that she got no response from any of those elected officials, you win a box of cough drops.
I find it amazing that anyone could survive in this country to the age of 55 with this level of shortsightedness and self-absorption. Allow me to clue Margaret Davis and so many other feebleminded folks into reality – companies, including insurance companies, exist to make money. If they do not make money, they cannot continue to exist, because their creditors and shareholders will liquidate them. The principal way they make money is by pooling risk, which they do through very sophisticated analysis. If they refuse to take premiums from a potential customer at any cost, it is because that sophisticated analysis has revealed that literally no premium would be adequate to cover for the potential risk posed by that potential customer, not because the company has some irrational prejudice against cancer patients/morbidly obese people/whatever.
So when the country passes a law that mandates that private companies cover these people in spite of the fact that they pose unacceptably high risk, the insurance company has only one choice – spread out some of that risk (in the form of drastically increased premiums) to the rest of us. A world in which the government mandates that insurance companies insure everyone no matter what and that they’re not allowed to drastically increase premiums to respond to this mandate is a world in which private insurance companies cease to exist probably in less than 12 months.
What is happening to Margaret Davis and countless other Democrat sycophants right now is that they are being allowed the rare privilege of a real-time market-based reaction to their favored governmental policies. Too often, Democrat policies don’t provoke this kind of stunning reaction because the forcing mechanism is government spending and the government can (at least to a liberal) operate at increasingly large losses forever. Private companies, though, can’t operate that way. You tell them that a new law raises their costs by 88%, they are going to raise prices by 88%, sure as sunshine.
What a mess we are as a people, that this woman Margaret Davis recognizes that she got exactly what she wanted in terms of policy but can’t believe that she has to pay for part of it. It is absolutely not possible that any reasonably aware citizen who paid attention to this debate (which Davis professes to be) can miss the fact that Republicans warned that all of these exact things would happen. I almost can’t fathom the audacity of starting a harassment campaign against the very people she urged to pass the law to save her from the consequences of having passed it. It is especially galling considering that a month ago she was probably calling these same Democrats urging them to stand strong against any revisions to Obamacare as part of a shutdown compromise. Even now she cannot fathom that her goals and votes/methods are hopelessly at odds.
It isn’t just the Democrats’ fault, of course, although they are by far the larger and more recent offenders. But for too long we’ve insisted that our politicians demand no sacrifices from us – that they make free candy and unicorns fall from the sky and that no one ever be asked to actually give back any portion of what the government doles out. Presidential campaigns in particular are offensive to good common sense as they tend to consist of a contest between who can promise the most free stuff without offering any feasible explanation for how the free stuff will be paid for.
This, of course, is why so many liberals in this country fought so hard for a public option in this healthcare bill. If Obamacare had passed with the public option, right now the private companies would be stunning customers right and left with outrageous premium increases and the public option, which could just lose money hand over fist like every other government program does, would see people flock to it in droves. By 2016, we would be staring at a de facto single payer system and health care would be a dead issue.
This, to me, is the crux of the issue. I guess it’s all well and good to criticize the absurd failure of the Healthcare.gov website (which also cost absurd amounts of money) and the broken “If you like your plan you can keep it, period” lie, but the larger point that needs to be made, even if the website is fixed and Congress passes some silly patch on the cancellations issue, is that Democrats have monkeyed with the marketplace in such a way that it going to make health care drastically more expensive for everyone. This is a structural problem and it is likely to get worse. The higher average premiums get, the more paltry the individual mandate penalty becomes by comparison and the more rational it becomes for young and healthy Americans to just pay the penalty rather than pay for the astronomical premiums. This in turn will continue to drive premiums higher, which will exacerbate the problem further. Sooner or later the system will not be able to sustain itself.
America right now has a critical shortage of voters who are willing to pay for what they want, and as a direct consequence, a shortage of politicians who are even willing to tell them what the things they want will cost. It is difficult to see any fix working until we come to this realization as a country.